mercredi, novembre 12, 2008

The Romantic John Stossel

I have this theory.

I'm fairly sure I've inflicted it on you before...I think that everyone has to have faith in something. God, biology, aliens, socialism...or free market-capitalism.

Carl Sagan apparently had thought about life on other planets.

John Stossel gets all dreamy-eyed about the lost Eden of free market-capitalism.

Check out this quote from a Stossel piece on what horrors may be perpetrated when the government intervenes in the markets. (Linked from the website

"In a free society, with constitutionally limited government, the president would be a mere executive who sees to it that predictable and understandable laws are enforced. But sadly, the prestige and power of the presidency have grown, and liberty has contracted."

From the beginning of our Republic --well before the beginning -- kings and bishops and Popes and governors were intervening in the marketplace. Some of the most heated correspondence among the men who first governed this nation was about the extent of the power of the Federal government. In other words, there never was a time when government stepped out of the way and let the markets do their magic.

Stossel argues:

"But we cannot raise wages or create jobs or eliminate poverty by executive order. We can do so by freeing people to save and invest and accumulate capital. We can't make medical care universal and inexpensive by legislative fiat. But we can approach that goal by permitting a free market in medicine to work.

Government is force, not eloquence. And force is an attempt to defy economic logic. The consequences are often opposite of those intended. "A subsidy for medical insurance increases the demand for services and raises prices. A price ceiling makes those services less available. A floor under wages makes jobs for unskilled workers more scarce, as employers find it a losing proposition to hire them. A subsidy to production means too much produced relative to something else consumers want. A trade restriction lowers living standards at home and abroad," writes Sheldon Richman on the Foundation for Economic Education website. "

Some economists believe, as Stossel asserts, that "government is force" -- some think government can be a force for the common good.

Beyond certain immutable economic laws, we economists who interpret the same data differently.

Just like we have historians who intepret the facts from the lens of their own bias.

I don't have a solution. But I do want to challenge the idea that some of us are hard-headed realists and some of us fuzzy idealists -- instead, when it comes to crafting a perfect government, most of us aren't so great at wrestling with the messy reality. So we default to our prejudices -- which gives us a greater opportunity to blame the folks who happen to be trying to fix the mess at the time.

Do you believe the Depression was extended by Roosevelt or that he helped get this country going again?

Maybe neither, possibly both....maybe the truth is more complex than we often like to think it is. I guess we're going to find out -- again.

1 commentaire:

Steve Mullett a dit…

FDR inherited a bad recession, and turned it into by far the longest and deepest depression in American history. I'm certainly not about to give Herbert Hoover a pass, but the Great Depression was one man's fault more than any other, and that man was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.